Controversial village school plan poll

A controversial plan to build a secondary school to accommodate village pupils will be voted on next month.

Knebworth residents will get the chance to have their say on proposals for an 800 capacity secondary school in or around the village from May 7.

The proponents of the plan, fourteen parents from the villages calling themselves the We Need A School group, argue it will solve educational provision problems and increase self-sufficiency.

Their plan for a community-run ‘free school’ for 11 to 18-year-olds in the villages of Knebworth, Codicote, Woolmer Green, Datchworth and Oaklands was given approval to progress to a business case stage by the government in January.

But the move has angered many residents. Those in the opponent Preserve Knebworth group say a secondary school in the area would adversely affect the nature of the rural community. An unofficial poll taken by the group of households in over 50 roads in the village revealed 97 per cent of the 200 respondents were against the plan.

The parish council poll will ask those on the Knebworth electoral role whether they are in favour of a school being built within one-and-a-half miles of the centre of the village.

John Bantick, chairman of the council, said: “A one-and-a-half mile radius from Knebworth encompasses the Roebuck, Broadwater Crescent, part of Datchworth, Oaklands, Sally Deards Lane, Old Knebworth Lane, Woolmer Green, Rabley Heath and Old Knebworth. Although there is a possibility that a secondary school could be built up to three-and-a-half miles away, at this stage the parish council is only considering the perceived impact of a school in the immediate vicinity.

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“The intention is that the results of the survey will assist in deciding future parish council policy regarding the proposal.”

Ballot boxes will be set up at the village hall from 9am to 1pm on May 7, as well as at a stall at Knebworth Train Station and St Martins Green during the two week survey period. Votes will also be collected at the library and at Village News.

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